Mississippi Grind is the latest attempt by Hollywood to capitalize on poker and the gambling culture in the United States. The film will come out in limited released next month and while one of the main characters (Ryan Reynolds) is a professional poker player, the film will focus more on gambling on Mississippi Stud and Craps than it will on check-raises on the flop.
While the film has been well received by critics that have pre-screened the film, it will probably have to rely on a cult similar to Rounders in order to gain any popularity. Rounders became popular because it introduced a lesser-known game and captivated the imagination of millions.
Perhaps it is time for filmmakers to look to other games to recreate the same magic. Below are some poker variants that we would like to see in feature films.
Since the release of Rounders, nearly every film depicting poker has focused on Texas Hold’em despite the fact that PL Omaha is also insanely popular among poker players.
Anyone that regularly plays PLO will tell you that the game has much more action than your standard NL Hold’em game. If you watch tournament PLO, you can clearly see the difference as fields are thinned much faster than any NL event.
If properly presented, a film featuring PL Omaha could draw a new crowd of poker players to the game much like Rounders drew a new generation of players to NL Hold’em.
Triple Draw / Badugi
Sticking with action games, both Triple Draw Lowball and Badugi would be games that would be fun to be featured during a movie on poker. With three drawing rounds and four betting rounds, both these games can create some insane pots for those that like to “gamble it up.”
A perfect scene would be a wild and crazy game with either of these games where the pot is capped multi-way before the first draw and each player is drawing cards. We get to see each draw and just how well, or how poorly each play. Continue through the hand with wild and crazy action and viewers will see why both these games are favorites among the high limit crowds.
We could see split-pot games being featured in a film like Rounders 2 or some other poker themed movie where the primary character tells us just how poorly everyone is playing.
Whether you’re playing Omaha Hi-Lo or Stud Hi-Lo, the smart player knows that the best strategy is to play for the scoop. However, you have a myriad of strategies used by players with the most common being to shoot for high because “low doesn’t always get there.”
Showing how this strategy can be a long-term loser would be an interesting experiment in theatrical poker. If done correctly, it may even stir up some interest among viewers to take up the game.
8-Game or 10-Game
Another alternative to featuring a specific variant of poker would be to feature multiple variants of poker in the 8-Game or 10-Game format. The rotation-style games would work well in helping Hollywood recreate the action you see in many high-stakes poker games around the world.
You don’t necessarily have to focus on the straight 8-Game or 10-Game. Any type of mixed rotation game that features a ton of action and multiple variations of poker would make for great cinema in our opinion.
Imagine the different types of characters you could feature in such mixed games. You have the specialists who hope they can muddle through playing just a couple games well. Then you have the old school pro who uses his experience to stay on par with the young up-and-comers.
Add a couple of math nerds who exemplify the modern day pro mixed game player. Cap it off with a couple big personalities who love to gamble (such as Gavin Smith) and you could have cinematic gold.